Unscheduled care pathways in patients with myocardial infarction in Scotland

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Objective Treatment of acute myocardial infarction (MI) requires rapid transfer of people with chest pain to hospital, however, unscheduled care pathways vary in their directness (the minimal number of contacts to hospital admission). The aim was to examine unscheduled care pathways and the associations with mortality in people admitted with MI. Methods Retrospective population study of all people admitted to Scottish hospitals with a diagnosis of MI between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2017. Linked data for all National Health Service Scotland unscheduled care services (NHS24 telephone triage service, primary care out of hours, ambulance, emergency department (ED)) was used to define continuous unscheduled care pathways (pathways), which were categorised by initial contact, and whether they were € direct' (had minimum number of contacts between first contact and admission). Analysis estimated ORs and 95% CIs in adjusted models in which all covariates were included. Results 26 325 people admitted with MI (63.1% men, 61.6% aged 65+ years), of whom 5.6% died from coronary heart disease within 28 days. For 47.0%, the first unscheduled care contact was ambulance, 23.3% attended ED directly and 18.7% called telephone triage. 92.1% of pathways were direct. Pathways starting with telephone triage were more likely to be indirect compared with other initial contacts (adjusted OR (aOR) 1.97, 95% CI 1.61 to 2.40). Compared to direct pathways, indirect pathways starting with telephone triage were associated with higher mortality (aOR 1.97, 95% CI 1.61 to 2.40) as were indirect pathways starting with another service (aOR 1.55, 95% CI 1.19 to 2.01), but not direct pathways starting with telephone triage (aOR 0.87, 95% CI 0.74 to 1.02). Conclusion Unscheduled care pathways leading to admission with MI in Scotland are usually direct, but those starting with telephone triage were more commonly indirect. Those indirect pathways were associated with higher mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1129-1136
Issue number14
Early online date31 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2022


  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Myocardial Infarction
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Telemedicine


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